I came into the atlas fieldwork late, in fact it was only this year that I was able to participate in the winter and breeding recording effort, but I wanted to get involved, and put my name forward for a reasonably local tetrad in Kent that was still lacking a recorder.
On the map, the tetrad certainly looked nothing special, having a busy main road and a motorway running through it, but I was keen to see what could be found. My first visit was on a bright sunny January day when, to my surprise, flying towards me along the busy main road was a brimstone butterfly - possibly the earliest record for the county. I then started to pick up the expected common species but also managed lesser redpoll, buzzard and even a waxwing!
My first spring visit was once again on a sunny day and again buzzards were in the air, along with my biggest ever count of orange-tip butterflies; but it wasn't until my second spring visit that my very special Atlas moment occurred. I was suddenly facing a feeding group of mixed tits including adult and young Coal Tit, and adult and young Goldcrest - which in itself was a special moment, but suddenly, there in my bins was a very agitated female Firecrest! I couldn't believe it, the behaviour definitely suggested a breeding bird getting very annoyed at the passing flock. In the back of my mind though there was something else happening. What was that familiar sound just above me, hang on a minute that's a siskin calling! I looked up to see 3 Siskin with an adult bird feeding a young bird. They then flew off and when I looked back to where the Firecrest had been there was no sign. This sort of thing just doesn't happen to me so I was understandably elated, especially as the next morning the Firecrest breeding record was clinched as a male was seen carrying food. I was extremely chuffed!
If you've got a story about your bird recording experiences we'd love to hear from you, please email Ieuan Evans.